Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron Dunsany

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Lord Dunsany of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron Dunsany (24 July 187825 October 1957) was an Irish writer and dramatist notable for his work in fantasy and horror.


Edward Plunkett was the son of John William Plunkett, 17th Baron Dunsany (18531899) and his wife Ernle Elizabeth Ernle-Erle Drax, née Grosvenor. He was a kinsman of the Roman Catholic Saint Oliver Plunkett, the martyred Archbishop of Armagh. The Countess of Fingall, wife of Dunsany's cousin the Earl of Fingall, wrote a best-selling account of the life of the aristocracy in Ireland in the late 19th century and early 20th century, called Seventy Years Young.

Lord Dunsany was educated at Eton and Sandhurst. He served as an officer in the Coldstream Guards during the Boer War and in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in World War I. He was a keen huntsman and sportsman, and was at one time the chess and pistol champion of Ireland.

His fame arose, however, from his prolific writing of short stories, novels, plays and poetry, reportedly mostly written with a quill pen. Whether or not he did this for his original manuscripts, he transcribed a number of works in this manner and bound them himself. These books are in the family collection.


His most notable fantasy short stories were published in collections from 1905 to 1919: he had to pay for publication of the first, The Gods of Pegāna. The stories were set within an invented world, with its own gods, history and geography. His significance within the genre of fantasy writing is considerable.

The following is the opening paragraph of The Hoard of the Gibbelins (first published in The Book of Wonder in 1912), which gives a good indication of both tone and tenor of Dunsany's work:

The Gibbelins eat, as is well known, nothing less good than man. Their evil tower is joined to Terra Cognita, to the lands we know, by a bridge. Their hoard is beyond reason; avarice has no use for it; they have a separate cellar for emeralds and a separate cellar for sapphires; they have filled a hole with gold and dig it up when they need it. And the only use that is known for their ridiculous wealth is to attract to their larder a continual supply of food. In times of famine they have even been known to scatter rubies abroad, a little trail of them to some city of Man, and sure enough their larders would soon be full again.

Writers influenced by Dunsany

H. P. Lovecraft was greatly impressed by Dunsany after seeing him on a speaking tour of the United States, and Lovecraft's early stories clearly show his influence.

Fletcher Pratt's 1948 novel The Well of the Unicorn was written as a sequel to Dunsany's play King Argimenes and the Unknown Warrior.


The catalogue of everything that Dunsany wrote during a 50-year writing career is quite extensive, and is especially fraught with pitfalls, owing to two things: first, Dunsany's many original books of collected short stories were later followed by numerous reprint collections, some of which included only previously published stories and nothing new; and second, many later collections bore titles very similar to somewhat different original books.

The following is a partial list compiled from various sources.

Short-story collections


  • The Gods of Pegāna (1905)
  • Time and the Gods (1906)
  • The Sword of Welleran (1908)
  • A Dreamer's Tales (1910)
  • The Book of Wonder (1912)
  • Fifty-one Tales, aka The Food of Death (1915)
  • Tales of Wonder (1916) (published in America as The Last Book of Wonder)
  • Tales of Three Hemispheres (1919)
  • The Man Who Ate the Phoenix (1947)
  • The Little Tales of Smethers (1952)
  • The Ghosts of the Heaviside Layer and Other Fantasms (1980)

Reprint Collections

  • Selections from the Writings of Lord Dunsany (1912)
  • A Dreamer's Tales & Other Stories (1917)
  • Book of Wonder (1918)
  • The Sword of Welleran and Other Tales of Enchantment (1954)
  • At the Edge of the World (1970)
  • Beyond the Fields We Know (1972)
  • Gods, Men and Ghosts (1972)
  • Over the Hills and Far Away (1974)
  • Bethmoora and Other Stories (1993)
  • The Exiles Club and Other Stories (1993)
  • The Lands of Wonder (1994)
  • The Hashish Man and Other Stories (1996)
  • The Complete Pegana (1998)
  • Time and the Gods (2000)
  • In the Land of Time (2004)


Lord Dunsany would often conceive stories while afield hunting, and would return to the manor and draw in his family and servants to re-enact his visions before he set them on paper. Certain concepts, however, he considered to be outright "lies", and he disdained to publish such tales as his own fiction. Lord Dunsany then created Joseph Jorkens, an obese middle-aged raconteur who frequented the Billiards Club in London, and who would tell fantastic stories if someone would buy him a large whiskey and soda. From his tales, it was obvious that Mr. Jorkens had traveled to all seven continents, was extremely resourceful, and was well-versed in world cultures, but always came up short on becoming rich and famous. The Jorkens books were of a type popular in fantasy and science fiction writing: the gentlemen's club, where extremely improbable tales are related; they consist of:

  • The Travel Tales of Mr Joseph Jorkens (1931)
  • Jorkens Remembers Africa (1934)
  • Jorkens Has a Large Whiskey (1940)
  • The Fourth Book of Jorkens (1948)
  • Jorkens Borrows Another Whiskey (1954)
  • The Last Book of Jorkens (2005)



  • Don Rodriguez: Chronicles of Shadow Valley aka The Chronicles of Rodrigues (1922)
  • The King of Elfland's Daughter (1924)
  • The Charwoman's Shadow (1926), second part of the Shadow Valley Chronicles
  • The Blessing of Pan (1927)
  • The Curse of the Wise Woman (1933)
  • My Talks with Dean Spanley (1936)
  • The Strange Journeys of Colonel Polders (1950)


  • Up in the Hills (1935)
  • Rory and Bran (1936)
  • The Story of Mona Sheehy (1939)
  • Guerilla (1944)
  • The Last Revolution (1951)
  • His Fellow Men (1952)
  • The Pleasures of a Futuroscope (2003)

Drama Collections

  • Five Plays (1914)
  • Plays of Gods and Men (1917)
  • If (full-length play) (1921)
  • Plays of Near and Far (1922)
  • Alexander and Three Small Plays (1925)
  • Seven Modern Comedies (1928)
  • The Old Folk of the Centuries (full-length play) (1930)
  • Mr Faithful (full-length play) (1935)
  • Plays for Earth and Air (1937)


Essays and Sketches

  • Nowadays (1918)
  • Tales of War (1918)
  • Unhappy Far-Off Things (1919)
  • If I Were Dictator (1934)
  • My Ireland (1937)
  • The Donnellan Lectures 1943 (1945)
  • A Glimpse from a Watchtower (1947)
  • The Jest of Hahalaba (1929)


Books in Print

Millennium Fantasy Masterworks

  • Time and the Gods (Collection containing The Gods of Pegāna, Time and the Gods, The Sword of Welleran and Other Stories, A Dreamer's Tales, The Book of Wonder and The Last Book of Wonder)
  • The King of Elfland's Daughter

Penguin Classics

  • In the Land of Time: and Other Fantasy Tales


  • Don Rodriguez: Chronicles of Shadow Valley
  • Plays of Gods and Men
  • The Book of Wonder
  • Fifty-One Tales
  • A Dreamer's Tales
  • Tales of War: Expanded Edition
  • Time and the Gods
  • The Gods of Pegāna
  • Unhappy Far-Off Things

Night Shade Books

  • The Collected Jorkens (three volume set)

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The Secret of The Sea

The Secret of The Sea is a short story from The Last Book of Wonder. In the story, the main character uses Gorgondy, a wine brewed by gnomes from Huthneth Mountains, to convince a sailor to tell his frightful story of the sea.

The gnomes "sinfully brew" this wine and "keep it wisely from man, until the bargain that [the character] had with their elders all through that autumn night" (as a result of which he got one bottle).

External links

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Original Wiki source: Wikipedia